The Heat are on the right track

2022-06-15 0 By

Kyle Lowry hasn’t played in a week, and Miami either doesn’t know or knows but hasn’t revealed a possible return date.He was absent for “personal reasons,” but the structure of the team did not collapse in his absence.The Heat went three wins and one loss in his absence.Tyler Hero is currently the favorite to win the NBA sixth Man of the Year award, but he also missed his third straight game due to the coronavirus health and safety protocol.Late in a blowout loss to Denver on Nov. 8, Markieff Morris was banged from behind by 284-pound Nikola Jokic.He hasn’t played since, missing 37 games in a row.Jimmy Butler, the team’s best player, played in only 29 of the Heat’s 47 games.If you were to rank, the second best player on the team would be Bam Adebayor.He played in just 22 games and missed a little more than a month with thumb surgery.Duncan Robinson may be Miami’s best shooter, but he’s been slipping this season, especially at home, shooting maddeningly low, 35.8 percent from the field and 31.2 percent from 3-point range.Right now, Miami’s starting point guard is Gabe Vincent.Two players on two-way contracts (Caleb Martin and Kyle Gay) also got rotation time.What does all this mean?The Los Angeles Lakers are a mess.On Sunday, when I saw the Heat beat the lakers 113-107 at home by as many as 26 points, I was surprised all night by the heat’s performance, which was one of the best teams in the league this season even though they barely played at full strength.When the Lakers don’t give Russell Westbrook meetings, they use this excuse — lack of consistency and rhythm due to injuries — to explain their 23-24 record, and the Heat could have used the same excuse if they wanted to.There’s no excuse for a team that, despite its struggles, is still the top seed in the Eastern Conference.They are 30-17 this morning and have won seven of their last nine games.The Lakers are still relying on lebron James.He put up an all-time scoring performance (33 points on Sunday), but it didn’t bring victory.Lakers supporters had high hopes that Anthony Davis would return after missing 16 games with a sprained knee ligament, but Davis hasn’t returned yet.The lakers struggled without him, but it wasn’t easy when he was around.It’s hard to decide which center to pair with Davis (DeAndre Jordan, Dwight Howard or neither), who to pair with Lebron James in his absence (Trevor Ariza went 0-for-5 on Sunday), and which guard to pair with Westbrook.I used it, and it didn’t work at all.No matter which of the three stars is available, the Heat will find a way to play that best fits that star’s skill set.They are also the most team-like team, with coach Erik Spoelstra successfully filling the void with fewer players.Vincent, for example, started just seven games in the first two seasons of his NBA career, but he has started 14 games this season.Spo didn’t ask Vincent to turn into a lowry passer and arrow defender who led the league with 22 carries this season.Instead, Spo simply asked Vincent to play the same role in the system as Lowry.Vincent fouled out in 32 minutes against the lakers.He was 3-of-11 from the field and 1-of-5 from 3-point range, but had six assists and two steals.”Vincent did a lot of things that I don’t think most young players who are trying to fit in lack emotional stability and are unlucky,” Spall said. “The first thing is to accept a role that is different from who you are……””He’s also regained his 3-point shot, which most young guys would love to try and make, but they’re not going to be able to.”Spo likes to attack through Adebayor, a skilled centre-forward who can catch and move the ball in the high post.When Adebayor is not on the court, the Heat find that their tough wing defender, P.J. Tucker, can play adebayor’s kind of play if he catches the ball in the elbow zone.Robinson missed a few games due to the league’s health and safety protocol, but when he returned Jan. 5, Spo didn’t immediately put him back in the lineup.Robinson didn’t return to the starting lineup until Emmanuel Adebayor returned from surgery four games ago.His last two games have been spectacular, and on Sunday he scored a team-high 25 points, hitting six straight 3-pointers.Butler finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists for his third triple-double of the season.With 10 triple-doubles in two and a half seasons, he became the team’s all-time leader, passing James, who had nine in four seasons with the Heat.With lowry and Robinson out of the game, Buttle was the one to move the ball.”He can create easy scoring opportunities in so many ways,” Spo said. “That’s a luxury for us. He does a great job of improvise and finding shooters.He has a gift for that.”The Heat have struggled to hold big leads at times.On Sunday, Miami missed the absence of Hero, who usually plays in the clutch, averaging 20.7 points per game and overall playmaking ability.”The best case scenario is that we learn from the wins,” Robinson said. “You never get tired of those key moments during that time.”For the third season in a row, the new champions have turned things upside down in the league.And every year there are injuries to key players.When those two things come together, it can be very difficult for a team.Miami has used 15 different starting lineups this season and won games anyway.The lakers have gone through 22 different starting lineups since they struggled.They are sinking deeper and deeper into the mire, but Miami is thriving under the same difficult circumstances.